Monday, August 17, 2009

What to Do When Your Muse Is Missing

An aspiring writer wrote: Dear Mr. Moreland, For the longest time I enjoyed writing short stories. I found it fun. But now it seems as if I can't produce anything. For many months now I have been at a loss for words, nothing seems to come to me. And there is no more energy in my writing. I think maybe I'm starting to give up, but yet the other part of me doesn't want me to. I was wondering if you could give me any advice.

First question I would ask is what's important to you about writing? Are you doing it just for fun? An emotional outlet like a journal or blog? Or are you wanting to publish and be a career author?

List the top 10 reasons why you are driven to write. This will remind you why you chose to become a writer in the first place and give you a greater sense of purpose.

If writing really isn't that important to you, let it go and find another hobby. It takes a lot of discipline to churn out short stories and manuscripts on a regular basis. If, on the other hand, writing is an inner calling, a voice that won't quit, keep looking for ways to motivate yourself. You may just have something brilliant in you that will inspire a lot of people once you sit down and write it.

Your challenge could be that you are locked into one mode of thinking. I use two types of writing modes:

1.) Right Brain Writing - When you are in this mode, you are highly creative and your imagination is very active. It's easy to invent fictional characters, stories, or essays that come from the heart. All emotional writing happens in "Right Brain" mode. In this mode, I can write non-stop for hours. It's the best time to write new chapters and have the most fun.

2.) Left Brain Writing - When I'm not in the creative flow, my mind is typically more left-brained. I do not feel connected to my muse. However, I am very organized and can work on other aspects of my book, like outlining and editing. This is a good time to look at your manuscript from the big picture. When I'm outlining, I catch problems with the story flow that I don't catch when I'm in my creative writing mode.

If you're a published author, "Left-Brain" mode is also a great time to handle the business side of writing. Schedule book signings and market books. Surf the net for book reviewers and blogs that interview authors. Deposit royalty checks in the bank and negotiate movie deals with Hollywood producers. So it's great to be left-brained part of the time. You just don't want to stay in this mode or it's difficult to feel inspired to create anything from your imagination.

Writing is a discipline. If you are a serious writer, you will make time to write something even when it's not flowing so well. Explore training your right brain to be more creative and discover at what time of day you write the best. If writing is truly your calling, never give up.

In the next post I'll offer some tips for overcoming writer's block ...

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